Digital leadership – Digital enterprise in heritage

How are digital behaviours and technology changing business models in heritage? What does this mean for your leadership? The fifth online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series explores the demands that digital enterprise and entrepreneurship place upon heritage organisation’s leaders and teams.

Stone castle and its reflection in a lake surrounded by blue sky
Photo by Daniel Morris on Unsplash

Digital leadership – Digital enterprise in heritage

1. Full seminar recording

This resource contains the full seminar recording, alongside some shorter clips highlighting some of the key and interesting talking points made by the speakers: Patrick Towell (Innovation Director, The Audience Agency), Chris Brayne (CEO, Wessex Archaeology), Sophia Woodley (Head of Policy Research, The Audience Agency) and Camilla Stewart (Head of Commercial Programmes and Collection Partnerships, Art UK). It also features a number of useful resources, reports and toolkits to help you with digital skills, literacy and capacity within your own heritage organisation.


Download the video transcript

2. Digital enterprise is just enterprise with digital tools

Sophia Woodley started off by considering the idea of digital enterprise. She asked, is there such a thing as ‘pencil enterprise’ or ‘typewriter enterprise’? Because in reality enterprise is enterprise, and digital is just the tool you’re using to achieve it. There are of course things that digital tools do uniquely, but any tool offers unique opportunities. This suggests that for heritage leaders you don’t need to be a leading digital expert to exploit the opportunities that digital as a tool can offer. Sophia also spoke to the sector’s hesitance to be entrepreneurial, which sometimes doesn’t sit well with charitable missions. Unfortunately, in the current climate, it’s something that the sector needs to get to grips with and get over.

Sophia Woodley, Head of Policy Research at The Audience Agency, on the difference between enterprise and digital enterprise.

Download the video transcript

3. Beware of the concept of the ‘digital unicorn’

Sophia points out that successful enterprise requires a number of different activities, coupled with a variety of specialist and non-specialist skills. It’s important to the remember that the ‘digital unicorn’, the leader who can do and understand all of these things, likely doesn’t exist. So in reality, the role of the leader is to know the right questions to ask and the right people to talk to, to make sure that digital enterprise can function appropriately and effectively within your organisation. If you have read the overview of our earlier digital leadership seminar, on infrastructure and process, you likely heard this sentiment echoed by Jack Kirby, Associate Director of Collections Services at the Science Museum Group.

Sophia Woodley, Head of Policy Research at The Audience Agency, on the ‘digital unicorn’.

Download the video transcript

4. Be aware of the risks

A big change of the last decade, when it comes to digital enterprise, is risk. Chris Brayne mentioned that his organisation, Wessex Archaeology, is heavily reliant on technology for their work, more so now than they ever were before. He noted that the laissez-faire approach of the 1990s, to things like cyber security and compliance, would no longer wash today. So now the security, resilience and longevity of the digital products and materials that they create are significant considerations in their budgeting and production processes.

Chris Brayne, CEO of Wessex Archaeology, on the risks associated with digital enterprise.

Download the video transcript

5. The importance of collaboration

During the panel discussion, Camilla Stewart spoke about the importance of collaboration for Art UK. Camilla said that collaboration allows Art UK to develop a significant number of contacts, gather feedback on their products and projects, and helps to fill skills gaps in their teams for the products that they are trying to develop. It also enables them to work at scale. But the important part of any collaborative effort is the people at the top who can make the decisions. Those individuals need to be able to collaborate effectively to ensure that it trickles down to the rest of the organisation.

Camilla Stewart, Head of Commercial Programmes and Collection Partnerships at Art UK, on the importance of collaboration.

Download the video transcript

6. In conclusion

This online seminar showed that there is nothing to fear from digital enterprise. As Sophia Woodley said, digital enterprise is just enterprise with digital tools. The most important aspect of digital enterprise is to know that you have all of your bases, or at least most of your bases, covered when it comes to skills and knowledge within your heritage organisation. That could come from appropriate recruitment, it could come from upskilling or as Camilla Stewart highlighted, it could come from collaboration.


7. Further resources

  • A useful resource from the Digital Heritage Hub, ‘How do I achieve my online sales and visitor targets?
  • New business models and recovery planning‘, a useful resource aimed at how you can use digital technology to adapt your business model, innovate and plan for the future.
  • ‘Monetising Online Content – The Tank Museum and Patreon’, an interesting article outlining The Tank Museum’s successful use of the online community platform Patreon to help monetise the content they are creating.


8. Attribution

Digital leadership – Digital enterprise in heritage resource (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0

More help here

Wooden boats in a boat yard next to wooden huts

Digital leadership – Digital infrastructure and process

With the right leadership, digital tools, systems and processes can empower heritage organisations in their activities, services and capacity. The third online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series discusses why the behind-the-scenes element of digital maturity is so vital in meeting your organisation’s aims and objectives and what leaders need to be doing about it.

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Digital leadership – Digital skills, literacy and capacity

Heritage leaders play a vital role in building digitally literate, skilled, confident teams. The second online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series explored the role of digital skills and literacies in building organisational capacity, resilience and change, as well as how you can build your personal digital understanding as a heritage leader.

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Using the digital business model canvas to prioritise what to change

In this resource you will explore the use of the digital business model canvas to help prioritise where your organisation may benefit most from digital change. The digital business model canvas offers a focussed approach to visualising what digital innovation in your organisation might look like.

Published: 2022
Resource type: Webinars and films

Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "Digital leadership – Digital enterprise in heritage (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0


More help here

Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

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